Ahhh, birthdays. They bring forth so many emotions for parents. For one, we are thrilled that our children are growing and thriving just as they should. We are celebrating all that they (and we as parents) have accomplished in the last year. Sometimes we are just glad to have made it through a challenge and come out on the other side. For those of us still so close to the magical years of babyhood and toddlerhood, we are in awe of how quickly time travels through these all too short years. Part of us longs for a small bubbly baby or a bounding toddler once more. Part of us celebrates no more sleepless nights, bi-hourly feedings, or spit-up stained shirts. Overall, no matter how old they get, a birthday will likely be a reminder of a ‘labor day’ for many mothers. It is a day of great remembrance and joy.
My youngest child just celebrated his second birthday. My oldest will turn four at the end of the year. And me, I’m that mom. I am fighting against a force that I know I cannot win – Father Time. He will move swiftly through my life at times when I just need a few more minutes, weeks, or hours. And he will crawl at times when I want him to just speed up already. Such a ornery man Father Time. I spend a few weeks preparing for their birthdays. We make decorations, plan menus, and then we bake whatever celebration treat they want. It has become a tradition for me to me make them a birthday outfit to fit their chosen birthday theme. Through all this labor to prepare for their birthday parties, I am laboring in my mind on how I will not cry as they blow out yet another candle. I will not stifle their new freedoms and their growing maturity. I will celebrate in happiness and glee right along with them.
This is the first year I have prepared for a birthday and actually managed not to cry. No one warned me that I would strongly fight tears as I prepared the birthday banner or sang happy birthday to my child for the very first time. There was no warning about the lump the size of a golf ball forming in my throat and making my eyes water like a faucet…
I spend the weeks leading up to a birthday perusing through photos or rereading journal entries I made during my pregnancy. I will reread their birth stories at least once and dig around for videos of them in their infancy. During the actual day of the birthday I will often glance at the clock and oddly I can remember what stage of labor I was in at that time X years ago. Like how the nurse brought me a popsicle at 11:08AM back in December of 2010. I don’t know why I remember these things, but I do. They are likely tied my ‘new’ mom status and perhaps will fade with the years. I will remind my children of the exact time they were born and they will give me a blank stare and go back to what they were doing. But I, I will feel all those feelings of holding your baby for the first time all over again. I will steal a hug that lasts too long and a kiss on the forehead just as I gave at birth. After all, a birthday for them is also a celebration of triumph for me. A day we brought forth a child and added more light and energy to our family. A day we beat our infertility and losses. A day we won – in a big way.
Our children’s birthdays offer so much for celebration. Each year we gain more experience as their parents and get to bare witness to their personalities in bloom. We get a chance to look at how far they have come and imagine just how far they are going to go. While they are digging through presents and enjoying a day where it’s okay to have more than one piece of cake or another bowl of ice cream – we get to dig through memories and devour all those warm, fuzzy feelings of parental love and accomplishment. We get one day where people are happy to hear about what our child did at this age or that and we can share all the photos we want without that all too familiar sigh of, “Oh man, she’s in one of those moods. Get ready to be photo bombed.”
I am blessed with a large family who loves to celebrate my children almost daily. We delight in spoiling them on special days and sometimes just because. Birthdays for us all are quite special. I pray that we get many more to celebrate, winding through the memories of each one past until they all become a jumble of happiness and triumph. I may not always have those ‘new’ mom memories of just what I was doing on the day of their actual birth, but I hope I always carry those deep feelings of love and true happiness in my heart.
Happy Birthday sweet babies. You can grow to be 100 and in my eyes and heart, you will forever be those little bundles wrapped in a warm sheet and handed to me for the very first time.
I’m a people watcher…a bit of an observer. I’ve always been the shy quiet type. Sure, if we’re good friends, I will talk a lot. But in a group, in person, I’m generally quiet. I like to sit back and observe what’s going on before I throw in my two cents.
I have to say that I’m often taken aback at what comes out of some people’s mouths. I’ve seen adults make fun of a child’s name and gossip as if they were still in their early teens. I’ve seen people get angry or upset over the simplest of events. Many times when someone else meant no ill will or harm. I’ve observed fights over parking spaces and arguments over where to eat. And admittedly, I’ve participated in some petty arguments in my time as well.
At what point do we put ‘childish’ behavior behind us? My young children can solve many of their problems with a simple apology. Sure, they have their tantrums too. They look to me for guidance in how to handle their emotions and I am sure there have been times that I failed them. It’s easy to lose your temper, to let anger or frustration overtake common sense and good will.
In my younger days, I suppose I assumed that adults always knew the answers. That they were well-behaved, controlled their tempers, and never let emotion get the better of them…right. I don’t know at what point I became an adult. I like to think it is when I chose to leave a dangerous relationship and took a chance on a brand new life. Although it was a quick decision, it could’ve saved my life. Or perhaps it was long before that, or even after.
What I really believe is that there is no ‘one moment’ when someone becomes an adult. There is a gradual progression in our lives when we start to make better decisions. It doesn’t happen all at once. Maybe your financial common sense lags behind while your emotions mature. Maybe it takes a gradual progression of more than one aspect before a change occurs.
Whatever the progression of events is, I know that today I feel more prepared to be an adult than I did, say five years ago. Maybe even more so than six months ago. Our learning doesn’t end when we leave school for the last time. Life will always be our biggest teacher and just like in school, you only get out what you put in. If you want the world to make you better, make you wiser, make you stronger – you need to put in the work. Work towards better decisions, a controlled temper, saying no to impulsive behavior.
I don’t have all the answers, there are many that I’m lacking. But I am trying. I’m trying to understand all the components that make me who I am. And I am striving to alter those that I don’t like. You have to understand what is wrong before you can set out on a journey to improve yourself. Through improving yourself, you improve your life.
You can’t put good into the world and not receive good in return. Just as you can’t spew out garbage and evil and not expect it to come back and bite you. At the end of the day we don’t have control over every single thing that goes on in our lives. We don’t know how long we have or what will be placed in our paths. We do have control over how we react and what lessons we choose to learn from what life presents to us.
I choose to be an adult. I choose to stop blaming the universe for the bad that happens and work on controlling the good. Striving to tell others what I appreciate about them and not what I dislike. Does it really make anyone feel better to tell them why you believe they aren’t good enough? Does it do anyone any good to tell them what is wrong with them? Sure, there is a time and place for constructive criticism, but there is no place for breaking down another person. It’s a cruel and evil act that breeds no good.
You get to choose what you leave behind in this world….make sure it’s something admirable and long-lasting…
While in highschool, I remember being told over and over to enjoy it because these years would be the best years of my life…And inside I always screamed, “God, I hope not.” Luckily, everyone that told me that was wrong.
Sure, there are aspects of my overall childhood that were amazing. Playing was my job. That in itself is just an amazing thing. Highlights that I always remember fondly:
- Frozen cherry Kool-Aid in recycled Coke bottles. Thank you Granny for that perfect summer treat. I still crave these if I’ve been working outside or if I’ve been swimming.
- My sister and I playing school in my Pa’s hay barn. There wasn’t much as magical as seeing hay stacked up to the ceiling and stacking other bales to climb upon it.
- Bean snapping
dayweek. Buckets and buckets of beans to be stringed and snapped. My Granny and Granny Ollie (my great-grandmother) all gathered around the kitchen table working on those beans.
- Playing volleyball with my grandparent’s house. Always being told not to hit the windows, but not being told to stop it.
- Mama letting me play grocery store as we put away all the groceries every week. Not fussing as I took my time to ‘scan’ each item and put it away.
- Hours spent on our swing set. I still remember Mama putting it together. Showing her how I could ‘skin a cat’ on the bars AND from the top of the swing set.
- Playing tag with Mama, quickly turning around to go the opposite way to catch her as she exclaimed, “You’re so smart.”
- Middle school sleepovers full of candy, Teen magazine, Backstreet Boys, and ‘N Sync.
- School dances where no one wanted to dance at first, someone ended up crying in the bathroom, and then we actually danced and never wanted to stop.
- Fall festivals and helping put them together.
- Innocent first kisses and hand holding.
- Trips with friends to skating rinks and the movies.
- Friday night football games.
So, yes, childhood was awesome. And even some of those high school years weren’t that bad. But the best? Nope. I think I’m living my best right here.
Why? Because I’m watching my children do all those things that I loved so much to do. I see the joy in their eyes when I say we’re going to grandma’s. I see the love of discovering the world and the carefree abandon as they play. Through them, I see a return to innocence. I see them live in worlds where they don’t know wrong can happen.
As my children grow, part of me aches for my babies. I long for them to be so tiny that I can hold them in a little ball at my chest. I also beam with pride at the people they are becoming. Each, “Thank you,” “Excuse me,” “Let me help you…” leaves me happy that they are learning what I have tried to teach them. I am excited for school, sleepovers, school sports, dances, and fall festivals. I am terrified of first dates and learner’s permits. I know that while I sit at home digging through old photos, they’ll be having the same fun and making similar memories as those that I did. And if I’m lucky, and I do my job as their parent well, they’ll come home and share at least a small snippet with me.
The best years of your life won’t be the nine you spend in elementary and middle school. They won’t be the four you spend in high school, or the four in college. The best years of your life will be the eighteen you spend raising each child.
A whole world traverses across those eighteen years. You watch the birth, the development, and the discovery of every single basic part of life we know. You’ll see love, heartbreak, defeat, and triumph. You’ll offer support, courage, camaraderie…love.
This stage of my life may not be the richest, the calmest, or the most put together but make no mistake it is the best. I am reaping the richest rewards I will ever know and it is thanks to being their mother.
My oldest son is growing up…Last night as we sat on the couch I asked for cuddles and he said, “I not a baby!”. Oh, the heartbreak. Ten minutes later he was leaping into my lap, insisting on tickles. Then running over to tell his dad, “Mommy cuddle me. I not want cuddles.” And then right back to my lap for ‘tickles’, not cuddles.
Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember him as a baby… It wasn’t that long ago, but at times I just can’t see it. He was a big chubby cheeked baby with long blond hair. At least that’s my favorite way to remember. Now he’s a slender boy with short dark blond hair that he insists on growing out again so he can feel it ‘swish’. He still gives out the same grumpy expressions, and the same delightful squeals of laughter. He no longer eats everything in site…but will tear apart a box of his favorite snack in minutes. He still loves his ‘moo’.
The part about growing up that I miss the most is that I will never again in his life have days of just he and I. Yes, we’ll likely go on little trips or outings just the two of us. But the days of he and I playing together, learning together alone ended almost two years ago when his brother was born. Last night as I processed how big he had become I realized he’d start pre-k next year. And that never again would my ‘baby’ be solely my baby. His brother will get the year of pre-k to have one on one time with me – for the first time in his life. I have no doubts he will miss his brother terribly for those school hours as they have never been apart. Will he enjoy his one on one time, or will his independent, ever-moving soul be easily bored?
My children’s personalities are often night and day. I can see me in my oldest and I can see my never sit still sister in my youngest. Watching them interact reminds me of my childhood. Fights over toys, periods of time where we played together in peace. A love of being free outdoors. Little reminders of the child still inside me.
I’m happy to watch my children grow and thrive. Slightly mournful at the loss of ‘babies’ yet proud of who they are becoming. And no matter their insistence that they’re too big for cuddles, I am grateful that they still climb up in my lap and snuggle into the crook of my arm. They’ll always be babies to me…
Time changes us. Life changes us. While we may forever remain what we always were at our core, human beings are an ever-changing creature. The beauty of free will is that if we don’t like a personality trait, we can change it. If we don’t like what we weigh, we can change it. If we don’t like what we do for a living, we can change it. If we don’t like where we live, we can change it. We can change it…
There was a time when I seriously considered whether life or death was better. Death seemed a calming, more peaceful choice at that point. I was in a horrible relationship and when one worries whether they will be have a peaceful night or one full of worry over someone else’s temper being taken out on them, illogical choices easily enter the mind. I’ll never forget the moment my mind changed and I decided that I was going to live – and I was NOT going to live in fear. I made a plan and a few days later I packed all I could fit into my small car and I left the rest. I don’t think I slept for three days.
My life as I know it started that day. It started with a bit of fear, a bit of sadness, but overwhelmingly it started with hope. I took a chance and my chance has paid off more than I would’ve dreamed. I found love , respect, happiness, and no fearful nights.
There are obstacles in everyone’s way. What we do with them determines who we are. You can overcome them, you can work around them, or you can start a new course. If you let them beat you, you’re finished. And I don’t think most of us want to be ‘finished’.
I fought with a blinding madness to have my first son. For a few years it is all I thought about, all I cared about. I felt ready to become a mother long before most probably do and I knew it was meant to be. Some doctors said it wasn’t possible, some said it would be hard, but one said it could and likely would happen – on its own. We didn’t use expensive fertility treatments to finally conceive and successfully carry our first son. Our course was simple, costing less than $100. Our second son was conceived with no treatments at all. Infertility changed me, no doubt. But it didn’t defeat me anymore than the abusive boyfriend had.
Choosing to leave a career that you’ve just started to build to be ‘just a mother’ is scary. You question if you are doing the right thing, you’re scared of the financial changes you are making. You wonder if you’re acting solely on your heart’s wishes or if you really have done all the research and made the best decision. I’ve been knee-deep in being ‘just a mother’ for over three years. And I laugh at the words ‘just a mother’ every time I hear them. Because I am more and the word mother is all-encompassing. Yes, I cook, clean, change diapers. I also teach, encourage, support. I do ‘our books’ and I do my damnedest to plan for a future.
There are so many events in life that give us an opportunity to stay the course we’re going or chart a new one. Most of the time we don’t even know we’re being given the choice until it’s already played out. But after it’s said and done, those moments have burned their imprint deep on our being. They sear into the heart capturing a multitude of emotions.
As I continue to walk along my own winding path – I pray that I’m making the best course for myself and for my family. When I’m not, I can see reminders of what’s important and I can feel the road changing. It can start with an unsettled feeling. Or one of excitement. I’m pushed to an edge and something deep within excitedly whispers, “Jump”.
We are in potty training mode at my house…It’s not the first time, nor will it be the last.
Yesterday was spent cleaning literal pee and poop off my floors, chairs, couches. We did have some successes and my son found much pride in those. I was angry and frustrated much of the day and I was exhausted, left feeling defeated.
I woke up with tight sore shoulders, tension pulling at my temples – reminders that I let the stress get the better of me yesterday. Potty training, messes, fights over toys, fifteen calls back and forth between pharmacy and doctor, a week of waiting to get a simple refill…and it still hadn’t been done. I didn’t want today to be full of ‘annoyances’ or fights like yesterday. And as I was bent over picking up dirty towels, my youngest son stood over me. Thick beautiful lashes framing those soft, baby blue eyes. Little crinkles in the corners as he smiled big and wide. He was happy. He was toddling around in his pajamas, waiting for a diaper change, and he was happy. I smiled back at him, his happiness pooling into my own chest and filling my own heart. Warmth that starts from deep within and pulls you out of your own trivial worry and frustration.
Clothes and diapers were changed. A minor whining event over not getting pants with a reminder that it’s easier to potty without them. More phone calls and finally success. I jokingly stick my tongue out at the boys as I pour their cereal into their cheery colored ‘fishy’ bowls. They giggle and cackle because mommy is being silly. Their laughter is worth more than money. It permeates your soul. It breaks apart the bars I place over my own heart so often. It reminds me that life CAN be simple. You don’t have to worry because everything important is right here and it is safe. It is happy. You are doing GOOD.
I easily get caught up in what I don’t like about my day. I let it take over my mood and I often miss the happy parts that have been laid out for my taking. Dishes and laundry end up trumping block towers more often than I care to admit. But if I take just a few moments, I see their happiness. Pure and simple delight in the simple things of life.
I take a step back, and I immerse myself in their innocence and their happiness. There is nothing extraordinary in the every day…except that those moments will be worth more than any sum of money when they’re gone. This is life. This is my joy…
I’ve spent much of my children’s lives documenting as many ‘memories’ as I can. Photos here, videos there, little snippets of their daily lives. I’ve shared many of these things with family and friends, and some publicly. I love to share my kids.
But lately, I’ve felt the need to pull back. To take them out of the spotlight a bit. I feel like so much of our identities are public now. And it’s not all good. Sharing with our closest family members may be innocent. But if they share a photo of my children innocently on Facebook, and then someone else shares it, well I never know who ended up with it. That is scary.
There are photos of my kids sprinkled through my blog. I often hesitate before posting pictures. I know what’s here is public. And even if I ‘delete’ the photo, it’s out there for good. It’s hard to know what we’re okay with for the sake of education, support, etc…and where to draw the line for privacy.
There’s a part of me that often wants to take our lives totally offline. To give up internet, a crazy habit of texting every single thing, a constant need to be ‘plugged in’. It wasn’t so long ago that I spent a childhood devoid of internet and cell phones. We played outside, we played indoors, all sorts of imaginative games completely absent of technology other than electricity. It was a happy time for me.
Don’t get me wrong. Anyone who knows me well knows I am a technology junky. I can spend hours on the internet, tablet, etc. and be quite happy. Yet when I do, I feel I’m missing out. I’m missing life. While I’m documenting what has happened, I’ve missed what is happening.
I don’t make resolutions. You won’t find me swearing off junk food, TV, and probably not the internet. But I do know when my life needs adjustment. I’ve been slowly leaving behind this social network or that for the last several months. I’ve simplified what time I do spend online in hopes to find a happy medium.
So you’ll still find me blogging away as long as it makes me happy. For the time being, I am no longer sewing to sell items. I haven’t been for a bit now and I don’t want to be. There is too much time, procedure, and effort for that to be good for me now. I’m sewing for happiness, for my family, for myself. In hopes to help others. I’m blogging for myself and in hopes that something I write or share helps someone else in even a small way.
So what are my goals for the upcoming year? To be present. To be with my kids instead of documenting them. To unplug enough to not miss the internet if I go a day or two without it. To not take a tablet on vacation and pray the hotel has internet access. To be free…and happier.
Why, I might even grow a garden this year ;).
There was a baby or toddler in a crib in my home for a continuous 3 years and 7 days. Yesterday, that ended. My youngest son graduated to the transitional setup of his crib. And it makes me very sad.
With my oldest son, we had several failed attempts to transition him before he permanently moved to a toddler bed around 22 months old. Then little brother took over the crib. Now little brother, at not quite 17 months, transitioned in one day. Not a fight, not a tear. *sigh*
I’ve mentioned before that I feel like I rushed through my oldest son’s ‘infancy’ and those early wobbly toddler months. I enjoyed them thoroughly, but being a new mom I was always waiting for ‘what’s next’. I haven’t done that with my youngest. I don’t think about milestones and when he’s going to hit them, it all sneaks up on me. One second I’m enjoying cuddles with a squishy baby, the next second he’s telling me he won’t eat without a fork.
I want to cling to his baby days so badly. With my oldest, I knew I was ready for my second child before was even one. With nineteen months between the two of them, I really love how close they are. I’m not ready for my third yet. It’s not because I feel overwhelmed or worry about having them so close together. It’s just a feeling. Our family is complete for now. I do want a third, I just want to wait for when the time feels right.
Knowing that another baby likely won’t grace our crib for a few years is bittersweet. My children have both been sleeping through the night for well over a year. I haven’t washed a bottle in almost seven months. Baby food is long gone. I don’t get to buy tiny outfits now, it’s all toddler stuff. But I enjoy one son who always talks to me about everything and one who is starting to pick up lots of words. They both like to help me cook. I get two little boys who play chase, tag, and ask me to read 100 times a day. I can let them play independently for a small amount of time.
I’m embracing motherhood and all these ‘stages’. They’re best enjoyed when you don’t even realize what stage you’re in or what’s coming. I will still be that mother who is a crying, blubbering mess on the first day of school. I will be so sad to see them leaving our little nest even for a few hours. I will be told to enjoy the freedom…and perhaps I will. Likely I will sift through photos and stare at the clock. Arrive an hour early and be the first one in the pick up line. I will pray they had fun, made a friend. And I will hang on their every word as they tell me all about.
The days fly by…enjoy them.
At 26, I’m certainly considered an adult. Most days I do adult things – take care of my two young children, run an online business, pay bills, keep our house running, and talk to my husband during lunch about what’s going on at home. But many times throughout a difficult day, I don’t feel like an adult. I feel like a child who wants nothing more than to call ‘mommy’ and just melt into a puddle.
My children run to me for comfort when something is wrong. They stub their toe, brother steals a toy, they want a snack, etc. Whatever it is, they come running for a hug or for me to ‘fix it’. And almost always I am able to dry those tears and make them happy once again.
I have gained the maturity to curb my ‘panic’ mode for most small problems. Obviously I can get myself a snack now-a-days 😉 I can even cope with some of the tough stuff life throws at us without calling someone else for help. But when I’m having one of those days where not much seems to be going right, it’s very tempting to pick up the phone or shoot a quick text about my woes.
I often wonder if I will always feel that need. Will I always feel like I need support, guidance, or just someone to listen when things aren’t going my way? Does being a true adult mean that we are entirely self-sufficient? Or does it mean that we’re smart enough to know when we need help?
My children leave their broken toys laying on the floor. They move on to something new. As we get older and our ‘toys’ are bigger and more expensive we don’t have the luxury of just casting them aside and moving on. We develop problem solving skills and we learn how to go about fixing things – both physically and emotionally.
So maybe the need for reassurance doesn’t mean you’re not an adult at all. Maybe it just means that as humans, sometimes we need to feel validated in our decisions. I’m still not sure I fit the definition of ‘adult’. But, I’m trying everyday and that’s all any of us can do.